Blue and White leaders Benny Gantz (L) and Yair Lapid (R) embrace during a campaign event, February 21st, 2019.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Blue and White leaders Benny Gantz and Yair Lapid denied persistent speculation over the weekend that they are seeking to form a unity government with the Likud.
Lapid wrote on Facebook on Saturday that he does not regret saying his party will make the coalition’s life miserable.
“Facing injustice, corruption and the abandonment of the week... we will make them miserable, because that is exactly the opposition’s job and I am not taking even one letter back.
“If they have a difficult time with it, they’ll have to deal with it,” Lapid added. “It turns out that politicians who called Benny Gantz mentally ill and a pedophile and called me Amalek and a hater of the Jewish people are becoming very vulnerable when it comes to themselves.”
Gantz also denied that his party will sit in a government led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
In addition, Gantz will be opposition leader without a rotation with Lapid, even though the two planned to have a rotation for prime minister had they won the election.
President Reuven Rivlin plans to start meeting with party leaders on Monday to hear their recommendations for the next prime minister. Netanyahu has backers worth 60 seats, but still needs to negotiate with Yisrael Beytenu to get its support.
On Wednesday, the Central Elections Committee is expected to release the final results of the election, after reviewing all appeals from parties claiming irregularities and wrongdoing. After that, Rivlin has one week to make a decision about whom to appoint as premier. The appointee will then have 28 days to form a government, but may request an extension of 14 days, bringing the final date to June 5.
As for Yisrael Beytenu, it has maintained its demand for party leader Avigdor Liberman to return to the Defense Ministry, with a free hand to implement his strategy against Hamas. In addition, the party seeks to have pensions for the elderly be at least minimum wage, and to pass the haredi (ultra-Orthodox) enlistment law drafted by the Defense Ministry under Liberman last year – a demand that will be difficult for Netanyahu to accede to if he wants Shas and UTJ in his coalition.
Other MKs seeking the Defense portfolio are Immigration Absorption Ministry Yoav Gallant and MK Avi Dichter, both of Likud, and both of whom have substantial security backgrounds.
However, Likud sources say Netanyahu wishes to remain defense minister and give both Likud lawmakers other portfolios.
In addition, Netanyahu would like to keep the Communications Ministry with a Likud MK and slash the budget for public broadcaster KAN, according to a Channel 12 report.
As for the New Right, which is out of the Knesset unless the Central Election Committee’s review of irregularities brings dramatic results, a spokesman for Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked denied reports that she is already planning to rejoin the Likud, the party of which she was a central committee member before entering electoral politics. She is weighing her next steps, the spokesman said.
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